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Alexander Visiting Diogenes

Accession Number
1964/2.109

Title
Alexander Visiting Diogenes

Artist(s)
Salvator Rosa

Object Creation Date
1615-1673

Medium & Support
etching and drypoint on laid paper

Dimensions
22 3/16 x 15 11/16 in. (56.2 x 39.8 cm);28 1/8 x 22 1/8 in. (71.28 x 56.04 cm);22 5/16 x 15 3/4 in. (56.6 x 39.85 cm);17 7/8 x 10 13/16 in. (45.4 x 27.46 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Jean Paul Slusser

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2010
Salvator Rosa
Italy, 1615–1673
Alexander Visiting Diogenes
1661–62
Etching with drypoint on paper
Gift of Jean Paul Slusser, 1964/2.109
Rosa—the fiery, ambitious, and willfully independent artist, actor, and satirical poet—asserts his status as a critical social commentator in this print of Alexander the Great visiting the philosopher Diogenes. Eager to meet the philosopher, who had famously rejected worldly possessions to live in a burial urn, the all-powerful emperor, wearing a magnificent crested helmet, approaches Diogenes and asks what he may do for him. With a sharply dismissive wave of his right hand, the philosopher barks, “For now I want you to get out of my sunlight.” Thunderstruck by this rejection, the emperor realizes that wealth and power do not bring true fulfillment, a moral expressed in the inscription at the bottom of the sheet: “Alexander felt … how much more fortunate was he who would desire nothing, than he who would demand the whole earth for himself.” Diogenes the philosophical provocateur appealed to Rosa, who disdained social elites and vigorously defended his unfettered artistic genius.

Subject matter
Alexander the Great, wearing a crested helmet, approaches the philosopher Diogenes, who had famously rejected all worldly possessions to live in a burial urn. Eager to meet the philosopher, the all-powerful emperor asks what he may do for him. With a sharply dismissive wave of his right hand, Diogenes barks, "For now I want you to get out of my sunlight." Thunderstruck by this rejection, the emperor realizes that wealth and power do not bring true fulfillment.

Physical Description
A standing man in a magnificent crested helmet addresses a bearded man in bedraggled clothes sitting on the ground before the mouth of a large barrel. The latter figure turns his head to respond and extends his right hand toward the other man. A group of soldiers crowd around.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
barrels (containers)
emperors
etching (printing process)
philosophers
soldiers

3 Related Resources

The Divine Comedy
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
The Crowd
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted